Destination PA: Indian Echo Caverns

Destination PA

HUMMELSTOWN, Pa. (WHTM) — Even on the hottest and rainiest of days, Pennsylvania still has places to go for fun. Indian Echo Caverns in Derry Township is open seven days a week all year long.

“The history down here is amazing,” said Suzanne Fisher, the operations manager at Indian Echo Caverns.

Climb down 71 steps and you arrive at two big doors. You won’t believe what’s inside.

“Watch your heads,” Fisher warns.

Fisher has worked at the caverns for more than 30 years.

“We have just entered what we call the Indian Ball Room,” said Fisher. “It is the largest room in the caverns. It is 49 feet high and 100 feet across.”

The caverns are a cool 52 degrees all year long.

On your tour, you trek a half a mile through tunnels and rooms, learning about the rocks that surround you.

Some, called stalactites, grow only one cubic inch every 100 to 150 years.

“Stalactites, stalagmites, columns and flow stone,” said Fisher. “Those are rock formations that grow from the mineral water that enters the caverns.”

A lot of people see the shiny rocks in the cavern and wonder if they are diamonds or something valuable. They’re actually a mineral called calcium carbonate.

Those rocks have to be dry in order to sparkle.

Others are cream or have streaks of color, all dependent on the minerals that make them.

“We’re going to head into our eastern canyon, and we’re actually going into the driest part of the caverns,” said Fisher.

Another fan favorite: the cavern’s three lakes filled with rain and mineral water.

Crystal Lake appears incredibly shallow because the water is so clear, but it’s six feet deep.

All of the beauty is actually more than 100 feet under the parking lot.

“You would have never imagined it pulling in,” said Fisher.

Fisher says a lot of people ask why Indian Echo is considered a cavern and not a cave.

“We’re a series of tunnels and rooms all connected instead of one large room,” said Fisher.

It’s named after the Susquehannock tribe.

“They lived across the Swatara Creek from us and we believe they were the first ones to find and use the caverns,” said Fisher.

Each formation has a story in the underground journey.

“We call it our wedding chapel because over here on the wall, we have a giant layered wedding cake,” said Fisher.

Once you’re done with your tour, you can head to the Gem Mill Junction to make your own colorful stones using a bag of sand.

“Dump it in gradually, put it in the water, wash all the sand away and then all their goodies are in here,” said Karen Nye, the group sales manager at Indian Echo Caverns.

While there aren’t any creatures to see down in the caverns, you can finish your day by petting and feeding some furry friends at the Discovery Barnyard.

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